Mötley Crüe Guitarist Mick Mars Talks Las Vegas Residency, Favorite Song, Discovering Jimi Hendrix, and More
Wed, 15 Feb 2012 08:16:08
Mötley Crüe guitar-slinger Mick Mars has always stood alone.
With an inimitable style, the axeman revs up the Crüe's sound with raw riffs that are just as catchy as any of the band's stadium-sized hooks. When he gets his moment in the spotlight, his bluesy solos illuminate another side of his playing altogether. He's a guitar hero in the truest sense of the word—a cat who can riff and lead with the best of them.
Right now, he's in the midst of finishing up the group's residency stint at The Hard Rock Hotel's Joint in Las Vegas. Somehow, he manages to get even better with every explosive show…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Mick Mars discusses his favorite Crüe song, the residency, discovering Jimi Hendrix, Las Vegas back in the day, and so much more.
So how do you up the ante every night with the Las Vegas residency?
The more we do the show, the tighter and better it gets. You find little things and say, "Oh, this doesn't work. Let's tighten that up and do it this way instead of that way." We fix the little odd events that go wrong. Something might get stuck in the ceiling, and we watch out for that next time [Laughs]. It's real!
Has Mötley Crüe always had a connection to Las Vegas?
Vince Neil lives here. We play here quite a bit. As far as gambling and all of that, I'm pretty much done. I stopped a long time ago when I lost a few thousand bucks or a little more [Laughs]. It's a cool city. There's so much amazing stuff going on. I remember this place way back in the late '50s and early '60s. I'd come here when I was a kid. I think the brightest lights I saw on the Strip came from the Flamingo Hotel. When I lived in Indiana, we drove out here and went through Las Vegas. We'd ride over the Hoover Dam. It was such a naïve kid, I wished there was snow on it so I could sled down it [Laughs].
Does the setlist change nightly?
It stays steady. There may be some weird things that happen nightly. As far as the music goes, we play it in order. We play the hits and the "near misses" as Joe Walsh would say [Laughs]. Off the new album, there's a song or two. From the first album, we play "Too Fast for Love" and "Piece of Your Action." We play "Afraid" from Generation Swine and things like that. We try to change it up some. However, if you've been to enough concerts, you'd get disappointed if Aerosmith didn't play "Walk this Way". We've got the songs in there you want to hear.
How important is the visual element to your guitar playing?
It's me. I can't think of anyone else who plays like me. My tone, my feel, my actions, and what comes out of me is directly from me—whether my fingers get tied in a knot or not. I'm not one of the guys who sits there and plays scales all day long. That's not me.
Do you record what comes most natural?
Pretty much, I do feel like that. Less is more. I don't know how to explain. I play deliberate things that you can leave the arena humming. When I was in Argentina, they didn't sing the words. They sang my guitar solos. I've never seen that before [Laughs].
What song would you want to be remembered by?
That's a tough one for me to answer. I could tell you my favorite song to play. The one that I enjoy the most is "Primal Scream". It's the most enjoyable for me to play because it's very deliberate, direct, and to the point. Dr. Feelgood was an amazing direction for the band to go. That was a great next step.
When did you first discover heavy music?
I've always been a big Paul Butterfield and Michael Bloomfield fan forever. One day, I went to my friend's house and he went, 'Hey, I've got the new Electric Flag album, and I've got this underground guy named Jimi Hendrix'. I said, "Let me borrow them!" I heard Jimi Hendrix, and my jaw dropped onto the ground. He was a guy who could take a blues song and make into very heavy rock. Back then, we called it "metal" in '67, '68, '69. It was heavy. I studied Jimi for quite a while after that.
Have you started working on the next record?
Not yet, but we do have quite a few ideas. I work on my own at home. Nikki does. Tommy does. Nikki will call me up and say, "Hey, I've got a great riff". I'll go, "Okay, send it over!" Tommy's the same way. Sometimes, we'll do some goofing around during soundcheck. Mostly, we put a lot into pre-production, adding different elements to the show. I have my riffs. I've got them all recorded. I have stacks of them on my Pro Tools. When tape was happening, I had stacks of tapes. I've got probably a thousand songs that we could work from. I'm sure Nikki does as well. Nowadays, it's easy because we can send a hard drive back and forth.
What's your favorite Mötley Crüe song?